January 03, 2016

INNSBRUCK, Austria (AP) Ski jumper Peter Prevc won the third stop of the Four Hills Tour in dominating fashion on Sunday, positioning himself to become the first Slovenian winner of the annual event in nearly two decades.

Prevc carries a 19.7-point lead over German rival Severin Freund into Wednesday's fourth and final stop in Bischofshofen, Austria.

''I hope I can keep going like this,'' said Prevc, who is set to become the second tour winner from Slovenia after Primoz Peterka in 1997, and the first non-Austrian winner since Janne Ahonen of Finland in 2008.

''It isn't the end of the Four Hills, everything can change,'' he said. ''So it will be really hard in Bischofshofen to keep going with the high-level jumping.''

Prevc had jumps of 125 and 132 meters for a total of 269.5 points, 11.1 ahead of Freund. The German's best effort was 128 meters, just hours after he escaped a nasty crash on landing of a trial jump with just bruising.

Kenneth Gangnes of Norway placed third with 251.5 points.

''I am really satisfied. Innsbruck was the biggest challenge for me,'' said Prevc, who only jumped 115 meters during the trial session. ''That jump wasn't anywhere near good. I am satisfied I was still able to concentrate on my performance after that.''

Freund said the tour victory was now all but out of reach for him.

''The standings are fairly clear,'' the world champion from Germany said. ''It will take a miracle or some misfortune, but I don't wish anyone misfortune.''

Freund won the first stop of the tour in Oberstdorf, Germany, but was overtaken after the second stop by Prevc, who triumphed in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Prevc and Freund are also 1-2 in the overall World Cup standings, with the Slovenian leading 824 points to 639.

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